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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 21, 2011 10:39am-11:15am EST

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your dance? and they will be so drunk no one will notice anyway. and bellmore was renamed. she danced for the early movies by thomas edison. she was of course outraged at this assault on her morality. the main issue being she is only being offered $1 $15 big olympic and dr. hatchett been offer 20, her morality would have gone, would have been easily impugned. anyway, word of this party gets out. a police officer rates it. actually sees nothing, but, of course, the story gets out and it becomes one of these hilarious new york stories in which no one really cares whether women were dropping trousers, but it was just the way of embarrassing the upper class, which they did thoroughly. william howe was the lurch of
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the most notable entertainer at his bachelor party whose name was little egypt who went on to tremendous fame and fortune. lolo montes, of bulgaria, she plays an offstage role in the form of a woman named edith who was a spiritualist, and with all the honesty and integrity that that breed is known for. edith said she was actually the offspring of lolo montes and king ludwig. and that an otherwise somehow apparently engaged got her into the affections of a lovely old men named marsh put been recently widowed and desperately lonely, and edith offered to give him companionship, platonic companionship. she moved in with her husband and two children.
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she also got a mortgage to his townhouse on madison avenue. and was well on the way of picking his pocket at everything he had. at this point luther marsh had been a law partner of daniel webster, and was a very well respected men in new york. at this point he told his legal colleagues, they got together and asked william how to have a private prosecution against edith. she needed to get out of the marshes life. i thought this was an interesting thing because howe and hummel were known as goggles. and yet when it came to at least their skills were well enough respected and they were asked to take on this case. in the event they were able to discredit edith, restore lives of marsh to madison avenue townhouse, he'd did later fall into the college's of another spiritual later -- spiritual
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lady. john barrymore the actor, he had an affair with a young woman. john barrymore first came to howe and hummel's attention because they're trying to blackmail him. blackmail was thriving although necessary private part of their practice. and john barrymore really at the age of 17 was already known as kindly desolate wreck of a young man. so they're trying to blackmail him. he cheerfully told them i don't have any character to impugned. so that didn't go so well but they did ask for john barrymore in many later incidences. the anarchist, they didn't act for her directly, but she moved from rochester to new york city because this is where her hero
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had settled after being expelled from basically most of the central year. he came to new york, started an anarchist newspaper and became quite a famous person in his era. he was emma goldman's hero, she came down to new york to sort be in his circle. and our kids and for a time was regarded as something of an inside joke among european immigrants in a larger american society. didn't care much one way or the other. that result ended in 1886 and the bloodshed of haymarket square in chicago. he was nowhere near haymarket square. he was the most famous an artist in america and he was going to pay for this. and he did. he was prosecuted twice, on two different incidents on unlawful assembly and inciting to riot. and howe and hummel defended him twice. they lost twice. is always going to lose these cases. he should have lost the first
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and when the second, but america was in no mood to tolerate anarchism. so that was a rare case of howe and hummel operating out of something akin to principle because most certain didn't have any money. but they failed him, but i'm not sure if they ever could have one. in later years, joann most kept up what they regard as a good fight. but in the goldman fell out of favor within. emma goldman's lover went to pittsburgh and try to kill henry clay kill henry clay first, the founder of the frick museum not far away an iraqi man of andrew carnegie. during a bloody and i shall strike in pittsburgh. alexander berkman tries to shoot him. he does but first doesn't die. the idea for this kind of act had come from most. he called it the propaganda of
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the deed. for when he heard of it he was asked a very dismissive and emma goldman was not happy at all with her lover in jail and johan most was making fun of them. so out of public meeting, she put in her own memoirs, she stormed the stage for slipping in and in her own words, lashed him across the face and neck and broke the whip over my knee and threw the pieces at him. so, that wasn't very nice. in later years, johan most state out at the clutches of the law, except for one more time. he had the extraordinary bad timing to publish, to actually republish, we put these on the virtues of karen aside. and it came out at the new york newspapers on the day that mckinley was shot. so this was clearly a very terrible coincidentally, and he
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spent another stint in jail. winston churchill. winston churchill had his family and the united states. his mother was jennie jerome. he spent the day in court and he watched the case that howe and hummel are involved in. more consequentially, winston churchill's cousin was william travis or jerome. a new york city prosecutor for many years and also the man that eventually took down abraham hummel and force the dissolution of howe and hummel. and finally, benjamin cardozo, a great supreme court jurists. he was an infant -- he was born in the 1870s, but his father, i thought this was fascinating, he has a reputation. his father albert was a hack.
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howe and hummel first came to great public notice in the early 1870s when it was revealed that they had essentially bought at least 300 writs of habeas corpus from albert cardozo. cardozo was part of a group of four judges that were notorious for their corruption in new york, and affect the association of the bar of the city of new york was founded essentially to take down these judges. now, corrupt judges were not a new thing in new york by any, but one of the things i learned while writing this book was that new york will tolerate corruption -- it will sorely tolerate corruption if it feels it is serving some other end. for example, a good deal of police arrangements with criminals were tolerated because it seemed to contain criminality. but if it reach beyond a certain level, the public, the peasants
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would result. this is what happened with the judge's. it simply got too outrageous. the legislature took it out. they spent several weeks, put together thousands of pages of testimony, and including having to do with howe and hummel. in regard to cardozo, here's what the legislature had to say. cardozo did wickedly and corruptly discharge such person without any justice legal or cause. thereby, not permitting the unlawful release from imprisonment of persons legally imprisoned on final conviction, but cooperate with the said howe and hummel to enable them to coerce large sums of money from such persons. now, coercing large sums of money from such persons, it was frankly a business model and it was one in which howe and hummel excelled. because beyond the sort of
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boldface names of new york society, i would just give you a couple of other connections, they were the lawyers for new york city's abortion industry which was a thriving one in the 1870s and 1880s. i won't go into the abortion politics, but they were involved with the case of a man who was referred to them in which he botched the abortion of dubious legality. and put the unfortunate young woman in a trunk and try to shepherd to chicago. the trunk was discovered. the police very much botched the investigation. the trunk was allowed to sit at the railroad station for 10 hours which brought back to the more, was not put on ice, but this was one of the first great cases, the fiend of second
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avenue. they were the voice of more than two decades for ba barbara mandelbaum was the most important receiver of stolen goods having fenced by one estimate $10 million of stolen goods over a period of about 22 years. and that's 10 million in 19 century money. marm mandelbaum today would have been on wall street, and i mean that in both intelligent and sort of nasty side of things. at a time when you think about it, if you are not to bring a real woman, or woman with business skills, there was almost nothing to do besides cry. everything else was closed off to you. she was a brilliant entrepreneur. she was a crook, no question, but i have to admit, no regard for. those a lawyer for the wilds which was an irish gang associate with the area on the lower east side which he might be tomorrow. they ran into -- you can't call
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a padlock. basically they disintegrate in the late 1880s because four leaders in a row were convicted of murder. howe and hummel defender three of them obvious and successfully. the fourth they did not defend, and i think it's because the fourth person left his victim almost literally on the doorstep because a couple steps away. so i would recommend if you're doing a murder and you want a particular lawyer, do not leave the body on the doorstep. and, finally, they were the lowest and most of the great bank brokers of the air. this was the and of great bank burglars regardless with something like respect even by the police. they were the aristocracy of the crime. so this is howe and hummel. it hugely famous in their own era. you could refer to them by their last negatives even at toast of the air. if you are in some saloon, you'd
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say here's howe. the other person would say here's humble. but they have been lost to history, and i think the reasons for that are howe only had one child, a daughter. they didn't find the first biographer until the 1940s. and let's face it, we're in new york. there's always a good crime and a sleazy lawyer. and i think they just sort of got swallowed by events. so "scoundrels in law" is my effort to bring howe and hummel back to new york. thank you. [applause] >> so i hope there's tons of questions. >> how did you get this? >> well, i had written the book "crazy '08" and as part of a two book contract, so i owned a
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book, so i begin looking for book ideas. in my modest experience book ideas do not land like the holy spirit. you have to find them. so i was talking to the editor of my first book, and he was trying -- he was writing a civil war novel based in new york and i suggested to him that he should read lowlife, which is about the senior side of new york life in the civil war to world war i. and i went home and i picked up my copy of lowlife. i was reading through some chapters again, and i simply came across a reference to howe and hummel. two paragraphs about them, about their connection with marm mandelbaum as a matter of fact, it and i was looking for book ideas, that could be about. so i did a little research. there have been one previous book written about them, came out in 1947. it was a compilation of four articles written by richard for "the new yorker."
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and that was reprinted in the early '80s with the second, the reprint didn't go anywhere commercially. so i felt six years between biographers, that's fair enough. and then i just did a little research at the library because you can have a great idea but if you can't figure out how to complete the idea, then it's useless. but i realized that the journalism of the era was so rich, you know, 12 new york city daily newspapers in english, that between the newspapers and secondary sources on things like abortion politics, the death penalty, the five points, police corruption, if you could put that together the neck of the a pretty fun book. [inaudible] >> in the public library chiefly. which is a shadow to new york public library which really is wonderful, as everyone says. they have on microfiche the major new york city newspapers.
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william howe died in 1902, and abraham hummel soldiers on until he gets involved in a divorce case in 1903 when a terrible table person that charles morse -- this is a fun kind of thing. you can explore when you're researching a book. i had never heard of this guy, but just a hugely -- i refer to them in the book as a serial business killer which is exactly the case. but in 1900, right about the time that olga was getting off, thanks to abe hummel of the obscenity charge, charles morse and his cronies, and i mean it in the most pejorative sense possible, got a near monopoly on the ice market in new york. they had control over about 80% of the ice supplied as of april. and i had not realized just how important ice was to new york in
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the late 19th century. no electricity, no refrigeration. obviously, no conditioning -- air-conditioning, no fans. so they got a monopoly and they jacked up the price of ice. they doubled it. and even the newspapers, which were generally sympathetic to monopolies, thinking of it as being sort of modern forms of economic management, they were three years. this is the case with the tabloids really work. but it was a terrible thing. ice crystals a public health necessity because it was the only way you could keep milk and food clean and protecting terrible infant mortality, old people die and all that. anyway, morse wants to get divorced. humble suggest a way to wiggle out of it and in setting this incredible chase across texas desert and taking a year to get the divorcee back to new york. that was the case where i was able to get the houston post through a loan and other texas
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sources. but the new public library generally. [inaudible] >> yes, they both were. hummel doing howe one better in this regard he was disbarred twice. howe was disbarred once for what was apparently a careless bit of bribery in upstate new york air canada sure he reverse that by a more careful bit of bribery the following year. hummel was disbarred in the wake of the table to force. he also prosecuted for conspiracy to subvert justice and had to shut the office down. so he spent 10 months on the jail on blackwell's island which is a roosevelt island. and then sailed to england. he is, however, buried in queens.
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[inaudible] as a brick, i'm looking in. this morning on npr i am hearing so many stories that time has a sort of move forward. >> yeah. i mean, i do think there has been progress in new york. i really do. just to give you an example, in the late 1890s in the wake of an investigation of police corruption known as the likes of city and which, of course, my guys were all over the map, and administration was voted in. this administration actually did try to reform things. the police commissioner of this administration was theodore roosevelt, for example, and he
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tried to clean up the police department and succeeded to a limited degree. but i thought a better example of reform and his administration was a guy named george who was named commissioner of street cleaning. he did something unusual without. he cling to the street. we look at pictures of new york in the early 1890s, and the manure is literally shoulder high. he created a system to clean the streets. the reform administration as was usual lasted only one term. new york's capacity for reform i think is limited our desire is in some ways. and it was voted out with tammany hall came roaring back, to hell with reform. however, the streets continue to be cleaned because this was something that was important to people. they had shown it could be done. and they do think, this was one small example, so i do think new york city, the country, is capable of progress.
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i do think it is often three steps forward, two steps back. i also think that william howe and abraham hummel in a sense were a template for a certain kind of lawyer, a certain kind of loitering. if you go on to court or any of those shows and you have this kind of extreme defense lawyer, talks loud, dresses loud, will say anything, that's william howe. he sort of set the template. and i deeply that's the case because they were the first celebrity lawyers. in the first time there something called mass media. in the 1870s, 1880s, it would have been ridiculous to of had a celebrity lawyer because there wasn't a mass media. they begin to have that with newspapers. so yes, i do think we see shades of william howe and abraham hummel, and marm mandelbaum and all the rest of it, but not too
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much. >> and to what do they owe their tradition? where did they -- what was their inspiration for such, you know, behavior and the way, and the spirit, the mischief that they were up to? >> there's a word for that. money. [laughter] >> there are two novels inspired by howe and hummel. one was called the profession, and the other was -- it will come to me. but these are humorous articles and they were very poplar in the times. one came out in about 1912. the other in the early 1920s. and it has hilarious raps on how howe and hummel opry. this book was written by a
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former new york district attorney who in tangled within a number of times. so i think they were motivated essentially by money. and then i also think they grew to enjoy their celebrity, so by the end of their career, they want to be part of high profile cases. so for example, if any of you have read the age of darkness, there's an opening scene in that book when the truck, mutilated trunk of a body washes up on the east river. is the space on an actual case in which a masseuse, he was stabbed, shot, decapitated, and then dismembered by his ex-girlfriend and her new lover. so he was thoroughly, thoroughly done in. eventually, his tormentors were
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caught and tried. actually in long island city which was just across the water. now, one of the defendants, a gentleman named william back shows up in court and he says, i don't have a lawyer. and there's a tradition in new york. it wasn't a requirement, and tradition that a capital case, they would find counsel for you. so the judge looks around the room and there's william howe in the front row in place in diamonds, waving his hand saying i'll defend you. so i think there's also the thrill of the chase. speaker do you think bribery is being handled more tritely two-day? >> great question. probably. i actually think new york city judges i think our aunt on his crew. i've known a couple of them. maybe i just know the nice ones, but i do think new york city
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judicial system is pretty sound. if you talk on a larger sense, i think bribery in the form of campaign contributions is more. i don't think it's gone away. as a person who said, a lot of things don't change. and human nature survey doesn't change. it survey doesn't change. but i ask or think our criminal justice system is an awful lot better than howe and hummel's days. >> it sounds an awful lot like hollywood divorce scenario's, too. the show. >> of course there was a hollywood back then but there was broadway. they did all other broadway divorces. and provoked a few as well. okay, well, thank you very much. [applause]
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>> cait murphy as a former editorial page editor for the asian "wall street journal" and assistant managing editor at "fortune" magazine. for more information visit >> on february 16 of this year the borders bookstore group declared bankruptcy. joining us now on booktv to discuss the impact of this bankruptcy is sarah weinman who is the news editor of publishers marketplace. ms. weinman how did borders get to the point of declaring bankruptcy? >> well, i think it's been a long time in coming. certainly the last three years in particular as quarter after quarter orders has been losing money. they've also gone through a number of management change at the top. they've got to something like for ceos in the past four years. but the story can also date back to the beginning of the 21st century i suppose, things like
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their website, they didn't reclaim it until 2008. the e-book strategy was never at the same level of amazon, the kindle or barnes & noble with no. hoisting that borders with operating a few steps behind every other retailer, and combining all these additional factors that has been i guess impacting the publishing industry, especially on the print side in combination with various managerial mismanageme mismanagement. it really didn't come as a particular surprise that borders declare chapter 11. >> you mentioned the amazon connection. what exactly did borders do with amazon and in your view, what kind of mistake was that? >> to reiterate, back in 2001 when borders had had its own website but instead of running their own e-commerce selling books directly themselves, they
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pass that onto amazon. so essentially they were giving up revenue to their competitor in order to essentially make certain things easier. but in doing that is something of a devil's bargain because they essentially own the online property. so by the time they changed direction they had a new ceo who said this was not a very good idea, but in claiming in 2008, by then amazon was already introduced the kindle. it would be introduced into 2009. so when borders did develop its own e-book strategy in selling some additional the readers, they just never were able to catch up in terms of appropriate market share. >> so what happens to the borders e-book reader? >> well, they say that any e-books that have been bought through borders website are in
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their words perfectly safe. it's also interesting that the other partner in australia, which incidentally franchises the borders interface bookstores, they've also declared bankruptcy over there. so, i'm hopeful that their assertions are indeed true but i think you will be interesting to see if, in fact, the e-book that people have bought through borders sites are indeed safe and people can reclaim them and read them. specs of borders has about 642 big box stores across the country. how many are the closing? >> they are closing 200, and going out of business sales are, in fact, starting tomorrow. i believe that the liquidation sales will be between 20 and 40% off, and those are already going to be in the works. they have already started shutting down the caf├ęs at the superstars, as it will be very
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different walking into those stores that you see the going out of business sale signs and be able to get the books, cds, dvds and other appropriate merchandise at those prices. >> so why is it that barnes & noble has been able to maintain its big box strategy? is all about the e-books? >> i don't believe it's all about the e-books. i think with respect -- they may come down to this, which is that barnes & noble certainly most recently, they are run at the top by people who value books more than anything else. with respect to borders as such because there's been such a tremendous turn of management changes they have brought in people from outside companies who had experience in general retail who may not have realized that their experience did not necessary translate into what's appropriate for the book business. the book business is very quirky and it's not always been best with respect to what public
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companies in particular need. for example, expecting and demanding higher and higher profits. the book business operates on ebay or higher passionate a very tight margin. as a result, this would uncomfortable fit operated by people who were not as expensive without book business works, probably added to borders troubles. >> sarah weinman, when you look at the bricks and mortar business of booksellers, what do you see in the future given what's happened to borders? >> it's interesting you say that because i'm starting to believe more and more that we may also be witnessing a natural end of the chain bookstore business, which essentially started in the late '80s and early 90s when borders expanded, when barnes & noble's expand and we started to see these massive superstars that stood alone. some of them were part of malls, but most of them are indeed you could drive up to and park your
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car and go in and be part of the ice greater experience of just browsing for books. and in hindsight i do wonder if perhaps we were fooling ourselves that this could last as long as it did, and maybe 20 years was the natural lifecycle for such a thing. so we'll see especially as digital sales keep going, perhaps we'll see a greater propriety of smaller stores. a number of them have open. certainly they face many of the pressures that have been debated and bandied about over the last decade. but the ones that have open and have a certain business acumen, we tried to engage their committees and also develop even a small e-book strategy, they seen of the best chance for survival. i think hopefully we will see more of those. so the ecosystem is going to change. it will certainly impact how publishers perhaps sign-up offers and what advances they are paying and what books would
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be most visible. by to say that the shrinking of the chain bookstore business is dead is a connection i would be deeply uncomfortable in making because there are too many signs that are pointing towards more optimistic waters. >> who are some of borders biggest creditors? and what have they said since the filing? >> on the unsecured creditors aside, the biggest one is the penguin putnam group which is i believe is owed 41 million. after that the big six publishers. for example, simon & schuster is owed 33 million, random house is owed somewhere around the mid-30 million range. harpercollins, mcmillan and so on and so forth. i believe the only publisher that has issued a statement is penguin. others have stayed mum with respect to what's happening. and, of course, there are the
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larger secured creditors which are bank of america which show the credit agreement. they are owed almost 200 day. i do the ge capital is owed almost 50 million off of their own agreement as well. so they have to pay off the banks. have to pay off the big was -- the biggest publishers. so all told i believe orders owes or 300 or so to get as an aside to figure how they're going to get paid. >> can in your view borders emerge from bankruptcy, or with its remaining stock of stores et cetera become a profitable company? >> i think it would be wonderful to see them emerge as a smaller or problem to be. i also believe that many of the factors that has enabled them to go into bankruptcy may not be so kind and forgiving. to my mind, there's a little too
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much concord with what's happened when they went into chapter 11 administration in late 2008, went to the court to they didn't have an appropriate business plan and eventually went into chapter seven. numerous points -- reports have indicated investors are not happy. the top priority seems to be highlighting their borders rewards plus cards. but as customers come in and they know that the company is in trouble, do they really want to redeem their borders postcards or sign up for a membership in a company they may feel doesn't have a future? so i think unless borders has a really rocksolid strategy as to how they're going to survive, they may suffer the same fate as circuit city. but at the same time i don't think we are going to know for several months at the earliest. >> sarah weinman is the news editor of publishers market place at thank you for joining us on booktv. >> thanks so much for having me.


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